Storing cameras and lenses in a special dry cabinet

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by michael_levy|3, Oct 28, 2017.

  1. have a "first look" article about a cabinet being sold by B&H Photo. The idea is that this will prevent moulds and fungus growth on your camera and equipment.

    How likely is fungus or mold on my Leica gear? Is it worth getting one of these cabinets, or is it bogus?
  2. SCL


    Depends on where you live. Even though I had my first Leica at sea for a couple of years, my lenses never developed any fungus (I had one of them for 40 years), but I kept them dry and wasn't constantly swapping them. In subsequent years I kept the lenses in open air with plenty of sunshine, and when stored, with front and rear caps on and frequently aired - not kept in bags or leather pouches. If you're in a tropical area with super high humidity, a drying cabinet may make sense, but it certainly isn't absolutely necessary. Mold and fungus grow best in damp, dark environments.
  3. It is not bogus, and those cabinets seem like a bargain. I live in a rather dry area (coast of Southern California) but we have about three months when we sometimes get rain and high humidity. I lost a lens to fungus a few years ago, in an area of our house evidently more damp than I thought. My cameras and bags now go in an ordinary metal cabinet with a dehumidifier inside like people use in gun safes. It simply raises the temperature inside the cabinet a little, so that the relative humidity is lowered. It's not automatic, and I keep a digital hygrometer which is checked periodically. If I had seen reasonably priced dry cabinets earlier, I would have bought one. I have no connection with B&H or Goldenrod.

    Added note: the lens I lost was an old 400mm f/6.3 Spiratone pre-set. If I had lost a Leica lens (which I've never owned) or even one of my Nikon or Olympus lenses to mold, I would have been very upset.
  4. kendunton

    kendunton Edinburgh

    I keep my cameras in plastic boxes mainly, with a few (free) silicon sachets in. I've done this for 40 years and never had a problem.
  5. The dehumidifying cabinets work fine, and are quite efficient, but you need to keep the internal RH moderate, say 40-50% if you are storing Leica gear with vulcanite, and I would think, leather.
    I accidentally left a IIIc in my cabinet set too dry, say around 20% RH. The vulcanite, which had been well attached, shrank and cracked off the body. The cabinet is also useful, if set low, at reconditioning silica gel packets.
  6. Exactly! - They recently installed a new air humidifier system at work. It struggles hard to keep humidity above 40%. Small print reads 50% & above would mean risking mold & fungus.
    I recommend taking measurements at home, to decide if you are an Inuit supposed to buy a refrigerator.
  7. During periods of non use, all my cameras & lenses are stored in large ZipLoc freezer bags with several 1oz sili gel packs in the bag. Cameras do not have attached lenses, everything is stored separated. Wet a cotton ball with 70-90% alcohol, squeeze it dry & pop it into the bag. Remove the air, seal the bag and fold it over. Run a length of black electrical tape over the zipper area. I have not lost a camera or lens to fungi since starting this drill.
    From time to time I clean the exterior of my cameras with the moist (alcohol) cotton ball. Fungi love human body oils! Bill
  8. Yes, local conditions do vary, but those units at B+H seem pretty reasonable. I knew a guy with lots of Nikon F bodies and lenses in South America. He had lost a couple of lenses to bad fungus ecthing. Then he kept his stuff in a simple glass cabinet with a 25W bulb inside. No issues after he did that.
  9. If you store your lenses better to keep them away from the moisture and humid conditions. If you use a lens taken out a cold condition straight away to the hot humid conditions it forms condensations between lens elements and that's where the fungus in the air starts to grow. So the idea is to eliminate moisture and this can be done keeping all the lenses well-sealed containers ( Plastic bags and airtight containers ) with de-humidifiers like Silica gels. So this is an especial situation while using the photo tools during a visit in a tropical country, in the places like Sahara or in Iceland or alps mountains. Cold or hot weather can cause lot of condensations in cameras.
  10. I now have a heat pump water heater, which as a side effect condenses water out of the basement air.

    Seattle mostly doesn't have high humidity, so I mostly don't worry about it, but now my basement is dryer than it used to be.

    In high humidity areas, many people keep air conditioners running all the time, to keep humidity down.
    A humidity controlled cabinet would be good for those places.
  11. James Elwing, thanks for your post, I came to here hoping to find an answer regarding keeping vulcanite covered cameras in dry-safes, you answered it perfectly. I recently bought a Leica M3 (serial number 700061) and it's been in my dry cabinet for around 6 weeks when I noticed the otherwise perfect vulcanite covering had developed a crack on the rear door section, I run my dry cabinet at 30 - 35%! I've now adjusted it to 40 - 45% and will need some vulcanite care to try and restore any drying that may have occurred. I live in SIngapore so dry-cabinets are essential 70% plus humidity here all year round, it's very common to find people discarding lens (and cameras) due to fungus!
    Thanks for your very useful comments.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2018
  12. Hi Wurlitzer,
    Glad I could help. That's an early-ish M3 isn't it, and I think with those, the vulcanite separates off the back door more easily, so the body vulcanite might be OK.
    I think if you wanted to repair, I would remove the back door, and warm up the vulcanite in an ordinary environment so it swells a bit and regains some flexibility before re-adhering. cheers James Elwing
  13. Thanks James, I certainly give that a try too but also found that using Mothers Protectant on the vulcanite has helped a lot and the crack has settled back, besides making it look very good too. The M3 is certainly an early one, 61st made!
  14. Singapore certainly qualifies as a humid tropical environment, and a dry box makes perfect sense. Cameras taken from an air conditioned environment incur condensation when taken outside. While this keeps you from shooting until the outer elements clear, there is a good chance condensation will develop on inner elements (and mechanisms) too, presenting a situation favorable to mold growth and corrosion. Condensation can also occur when humid air trapped inside your equipment condenses when exposed to a cool environment.

    Dry boxes are effective because they maintain a temperature higher than the outside dewpoint, thus preventing condensation, Many do not use refrigeration to reduce the dewpoint. Raising the temperature is sufficient. The dry cabinet advertised by B&H operates in this manner.

    Ruggard Electronic Dry Cabinet (80L) EDC-80L B&H Photo Video
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2018
    panamawise likes this.

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